The Gagosian Gallery recently exhibited Gazing Ball, a series of paintings by Jeff Koons. Through these paintings, Koons connects his work with legendary artists of the past, including Monet, Manet, Titian, El Greco, Rembrandt, Klimt, Van Gogh, and more. Koons, known for his stainless steel pieces with mirror-polished, reflective surfaces (i.e. Balloon Dog), exhibits glass, blue “gazing” balls paired with paintings from the past. These gazing balls sit on small painted aluminum shelves, which are attached to the front of the painting. Similar to Koons’ other mirror-polished works, viewers are able to interact with the work, as both the viewer and the painting are reflected in the gazing ball.
Having seen “Jeff Koons: A Retrospective” last fall at the Whitney Museum, which featured the Balloon Dog (Yellow) (1994-2000) and a range of works from his past, including Bananity (1988), Equilibrium (1983-93), and Made in Heaven (1989-91), I had high expectations for this exhibit. Jeff Koons is one of my favorite artists, but honestly, I was a bit disappointed, as the exhibit was not what I expected. Each ball was placed in the center or slightly below the center of the painting. Every painting was paired with the same blue ball and relatively in the same place. I was hoping for a bit variety in terms of size and placement of the gazing balls, perhaps to give viewers a different perspective among each work. Although I love the relationship Koons creates with renowned artists from the past, the exhibit was overall a bit mundane compared to “Jeff Koons: A Retrospective,” exhibited at the Whitney Museum last year. Please note that this specific exhibit at the Gagsonian Gallery solely featured Koons’ paintings. Koons also pairs his gazing balls with statues, such as Gazing Ball (Belvedere Torso) (2013) and Gazing Ball (Farnese Hercules) (2013), which I personally would have enjoyed seeing. Regardless, taking a selfie in Koons’ works always makes for a great photo.